Contest Timings

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PuzzleScot
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Contest Timings

Post by PuzzleScot » Tue 07 Jun, 2011 12:55 pm

Continuing from Fred's comments in the UKSC 2011 Championship discussion...
Fred76 wrote:I've seen that contest is open from friday evening, so there is a chance that I can participate ;) .Fred
I've always questioned the exact timing of contests. When we started hosting contests I realised there was an unnecessary exclusion on Friday evening participation, and an unnecessarily strict 'final submissions by midnight' deadline.

Therefore, I started contests at 9pm Friday UK local time, and ended them at 3am Monday.
These are reasonably arbitrary, as you can imagine, so I'm open to suggestions for what timings should be permitted, especially to encourage global participation. LMI have partly followed this lead, permitting anyone who starts before Sunday/Monday midnight time to finish.

My thoughts are to start at 8pm Friday (to allow last minute checks here after the working week is finished) until Monday 8am (all times UK local). That's a 60 hour window, and should satisfy most potential participants. (I haven't done a timezone chart of participants, so not sure what windows are convenient/inconvenient.)

For example, I'm not completely averse to a midweek contest (8am Monday - 8pm Friday), since I (for one) am more likely to have a free evening during the week than at weekends.

Clearly reasonable limits have to be defined, since the contest is best monitored throughout.

Let me know how you'd like things to be, so we can improve the puzzling experience!

Alan

ronald
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by ronald » Wed 08 Jun, 2011 1:07 am

What about running contests from Thursday afternoon until Monday morning? So that those who want to go away for a weekend can play at their convenience on Thursday afternoon/evening. This would seem to suit the maximum number of people.

GarethMoore
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by GarethMoore » Wed 08 Jun, 2011 1:18 am

It's clearly a balance between too short a window such that it stops people taking part, and too long a window which excessively delays any discussion afterwards and makes it harder to run and police. I think it's nice to include all the weekend but I've always thought weekdays would be good too, so I think Ronald's suggestion is a reasonable compromise.

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Re: Contest Timings

Post by GarethMoore » Fri 17 Jun, 2011 4:29 pm

Just to bring this up again, I'm very glad that the UK Puzzle test will allow us to start on Friday evening, since otherwise I couldn't have done it.

However it strikes me that starting at 9pm on Fridays is pretty late. If the only reason is to allow for last minute checks, can't they be done on say Thursday evening instead? Since it is 2.5 hours long (which I personally think is far too long and I think also longer than any WPC rounds ever are?), even if I begin soon after 9 I still won't finish until nearly midnight. If we could start at (say) 7pm then that would be a lot fairer for such a long test, I think.

Mind you, in general I still like Ronald's proposal for Thursday onwards.

drsteve
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by drsteve » Fri 17 Jun, 2011 4:42 pm

In defense of the length, given that it's in a way supposed to test the entire spectrum of puzzling ability, then it needs to be long. For a one-off test, it needs to hit a lot of puzzle styles to be representative and still have accessible puzzles in it.

But you're right, I'm pretty sure there are no rounds that long at the WPC, although there have been 2 hour rounds, I'm sure.

ronald
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by ronald » Fri 17 Jun, 2011 4:49 pm

Although WPC rounds are generally less than 2.5 hours, there is often only a minimal break between two rounds in the same session - requiring intense concentration for a much longer period than 2.5 hours. I think this is an appropriate length for a qualifying test.

However, with this in mind, and as Gareth says, 9pm on Friday is quite late to start.

PuzzleScot
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by PuzzleScot » Fri 17 Jun, 2011 8:04 pm

Thanks for the comments.

Firstly, the USPC is always 2h30m. I've never heard any negative comments about the duration of that, so why not for us too..?
Perhaps I should have done two 1h30 parts, with a maximum 30m break in between. That's certainly doable technically, and perhaps something to think about for next year if we place higher importance on the UKPC (and UKSC) as a qualifier in the future.

I still have some fine tuning to do to the PB, so I certainly don't want to bring the start time forward too much, wiping out any breathing space unnecessarily. I don't see any reason not to have a Friday 3pm start, or how lengthening the window is going to cause anyone any issues. Comments?
(I can't start it at 6pm, as I'm out between 5:30 and 7:30 every Friday - the last thing I want is for an error requiring my attention to happen when I'm not here!)

There are indeed a variety of puzzle types in the contest - some familiar, some not. As I said, IB will be available this weekend - still one or 2 examples to knock up tonight.

As for the duration, I've struggled to get the time down to where it is. I feel the contest would be weakened without any of the puzzles that are in it, and already a shame that some I have been given can't be used this time.

I've also given consideration to the casual puzzler. There are certainly some puzzles to keep them busy too. As a result, there are a couple of puzzles where an easy and a hard example exists of the same type. I hope no-one has any objections to that!

ronald
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by ronald » Sat 18 Jun, 2011 11:35 am

Perhaps I should have done two 1h30 parts, with a maximum 30m break in between. That's certainly doable technically, and perhaps something to think about for next year if we place higher importance on the UKPC (and UKSC) as a qualifier in the future.
If the problem is that the contest is taking too much time, then having two parts with an optional short break is not a good solution...

PuzzleScot
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by PuzzleScot » Sat 18 Jun, 2011 6:38 pm

That depends whether the problem is the overall duration of the test, or the length of a single round of continuous solving...
What I was pointing out is that we have the technology to simulate the reality of a test environment if we really want to.
(Yes, I had realised 2 x 1h30 > 2h30. 8-) )

GarethMoore
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Re: Contest Timings

Post by GarethMoore » Mon 20 Jun, 2011 12:36 am

Ah, I'd forgotten that the USPC is 2.5 hours. :)

Thanks very much for moving the start time earlier in the day - I for one certainly appreciate it!

Looks like a nice selection of puzzles.

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